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Re: Are XML's Good Ideas hidden? (was Re: Re: What a

why is xml good
At 04:16 PM 10/26/2002 -0400, Mike Champion wrote:
>So, I'm curious: are the people who "just don't GET it" a disaffected
>minority who come here to have a good rant, or or the tip of
>the iceberg of submerged unhappiness with XML among real world developers?

In my experience, it's the tip of the iceberg.  I deal with people 
constantly, both at work and outside of it, who regard XML more as a kind 
of cancer than as a useful tool, and many of those people work with XML on 
a daily basis.  (Some of them even have SGML experience.)

Even at XML conferences and at tutorials I've given which required some 
degree of experience beyond reading Infoworld, I've gotten a lot of hard 
questions about why this stuff is considered any good.  I think I may get 
more of them than some people because I'm quite explicit that I don't 
consider XML perfect, and problems seem to find their way to people willing 
to talk about them, but there is a lot of unhappiness out there.

If I had to categorize the unhappiness, it comes from a few primary factors:

* Overhyping of XML's capabilities.  Developers expect a lot more than they 

* Creative reuse of facilities developers thought they understood, notably 

* Specifications that require a bottle of aspirin to read, and 1200-page 
books that only help a bit.

* A serious mismatch between views of marking-up data and views of data 
that comes in neat well-specified containers and never wanders from those 

I can't believe how far we've come in five years, both in making XML useful 
and in making it useless.

>Is is all over now, or is there some way to get out the word that XML really
>*is* simple and useful without all the layers and layers of hype, complexity,
>and drag-n-drop tools that exploit the power of XML for the benefit of
>vendors while denying its benefits to users?

I've been trying to do that for years, through books and mailing lists, 
with a sprinkling of code along the way.  I certainly don't think that I've 
succeeded, but there have been some happy moments along the way.  At this 
point, I have a hard time telling people to use XML without a lot of 
qualifications that complicate the message.

Getting that word out to people would likely take a concentrated effort 
with lots of resources and support, not to mention independence from the 
people who stand to profit from complexity and drag and drop tools.  There 
are some really excellent sites out there which get that message across, 
but it's hard to get developers to read XML.com instead of various vendors 
sites when they just want to get XYZ job done yesterday.

Maybe it's time to restart the simplification cycle and jettison the 
accumulated debris, complete with a new acronym.  It's worked before, 
though the effects seem to be disappointingly temporary.

Simon St.Laurent
"Every day in every way I'm getting better and better." - Emile Coue


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